What’s Happening in Natural Sciences

Herpetology Lab

Dr. Mohr's Herpetology lab at the Macon campus lake.

Students involved in Dr. Jeffrey Mohr's Herpetology Lab study all forms of reptiles and amphibians. Most of the research in the lab utilizes field-based techniques and students get hands-on experience with different reptile and amphibian species. Students can participate as a volunteer or as a course within the biology major such as BIOL 2999 (Directed Studies in Herpetology) or even BIOL 4894 (Research in Herpetology). One of the long term projects on the Macon campus is a mark/recapture study of the turtles in the lake.

Dr. Mohr's Herpetology lab analyzing a turtle shell.

Students from the lab capture turtles and take morphological measurements before releasing them into the lake with brightly colored code numbers on the shell. Sightings of the marked turtles help us gather information on behavior and movement patterns. Another focus of the lab is the utilization of automated video and audio recording systems to collect data on calling patterns of anurans (frogs and toads), basking site preference of turtles, and movement patterns of several reptile and amphibian species. Contact Dr. Jeffrey Mohr () for more information or to get involved.

Honeybees on the Cochran Campus

Students harvesting honey.

Middle Georgia State University has six hives of honeybees on the Cochran campus. Dr. Gloria Huddleston and Dr. Clinton Ready are planning on using these hives to teach students about beekeeping, the importance of bees and other pollinators to ecosystems, and to get students involved in research about bees. Some future research plans include using substances from bees and beehives to treat diseases, figuring out how to reduce beehive losses from such factors and viruses and parasitic beetles, and experimenting with ways to increase honey production. A student honeybee club is being created which will help students get involved in learning about and researching honeybees.

Magnetotactic Bacteria of the Georgia Salt Marsh

The current focus of this project is to isolate and characterize magnetotactic species that have been detected in samples from several locations along the Georgia coast including the UGA Skidaway Institute and Jekyll Island. Magnetotactic bacteria are unique in their ability to use tiny internal magnetosomes to find a "sweet" spot in the water column (or sediment) where oxygen is low. Georgia salt marsh sediments have been well characterized with regards to their chemistry and prokaryotic ecology but no reports of magnetotactic bacteria until been recorded until now. Determining the role magnetotactic bacteria play in Georgia salt marsh sediments may provide a clearer picture of nutrient cycling in such an ecologically important but fragile habitat. Because these bacteria have the unique physical property of magnetism supported by a unique metabolism, working on them allows for the integration of physics, chemistry and biology providing students participating in the project with a true multidisciplinary research opportunity plus a field component (collection of salt marsh sediments). There are three faculty working on this project: Dr. Sharon Standridge (microbiology) , Dr. Estelle Nuckels (chemistry) , and Mr. Ed Wallace (physics) . Please contact them for more information.

Student research projects in molecular biology

Molecular Biology research project

These projects are being conducted by Dr. Balding and molecular biology students who have an interest in biotechnology and gene cloning. Students are working on projects that involve the cloning and sequencing of genes, and the expression and isolation of recombinant proteins from bacteria and eukaryotes. These projects are done in collaboration with Dr. Sawicki and with Dr. Anna Karls at the University of Georgia.

Student Research Projects in Plant-Pollinator Interactions


Native plant species (e.g., Echinacea purpurea, Asclepias tuberosa) are planted and students observe pollinators visiting the plants. The expectations of the student participants are to assist in planting and maintaining study plots, to record and summarize data and to present data at a national conference. If you are interested please contact Dr. Kim Pickens or Dr. Dawn Sherry.





Interactive Skeleton Project for Teaching Muscle Actions

Interactive Skeleton Project

This project is one of a series of research projects that Dr. Pattillo is undertaking to bring novel, interactive models into Anatomy and Physiology classes. Students use a motion sensor-equipped skeleton to demonstrate the actions of specific muscles or of combinations of muscles working synergistically. A computer determines the accuracy of the actions and provides feedback. Just for fun, the eyes of the skeleton provide feedback as well.